I am in the area of Torre Guaceto in Puglia, South Italy. A natural reserve, so stated. From the parking to the tower (torre=tower) is a rough 5 km of sandy beaches… it’s a walk I do every morning to keep in shape and to give my mind peace. However, the first three days I didn’t manage to go past the first couple kms because I began picking up one plastic bottle after another, then fishnets and plastic bags floating in the sea and plastic cups and just about anything I would find. I ended up spending an hour cleaning one beach and then I got too tired and hot to walk. On the third day it seemed the sea had vomited even more polluted materials onto the seashore for me to collect, I was so overwhelmed I began sobbing silently. I wasn’t the only person on the beach but I was the only person stopping to collect garbage and I got angry and felt even ridiculous both for cleaning up and crying. I felt alone.
Two men screamed at me that it shouldn’t be me doing the job but people paid to do it. I didn’t reply as I was too occupied fishing plastic bags I wasn’t able to ignore. I thought later about what he said and realised this was exactly the reason why I was the only one collecting trash! I see it as my responsibility, even if it wasn’t me throwing it now on the beach, even if I throw my plastic bottle in the trash bin… it’s my responsibility because I still use plastic, and even if I didn’t use plastic I would still be responsible for keeping our Planet/home clean. We pollute because there is someone else who will clean up, isn’t it so? We pollute because we are ignorant, and we ignore how much harm we are doing to ourselves. We pollute because we are so detached from Mother Nature we don’t hear her cry and suffering, she’s asking for help and we turn the other way. Well, I cried because something in me heard the sea and I felt its pain, its frustration.
We consider ourselves such intelligent creatures but we have used our intelligence and gifts in a self destructive way. I mean: with all the natural materials that can be used, plastic had to be invented! – I thought to myself. I also wondered who and when invented plastic, here’s what I found briefly:
” The history of plastic dates back to 1862, when Alexander Parkes demonstrated Parkesine, his man-made plastic derived from organic cellulose, at the Great International Exhibition in London, England. Parkesine could be heated and molded into objects that would retain their shape when cooled. … Other advances in plastics followed, using various other organic substances. It wasn’t until 1907, however, that the first fully-synthetic, commercially-successful plastic was invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland. …. The invention of plastics opened up a whole new world of possibilities for manufacturing. From automobile parts and telephones to jewelry and kitchenware, plastics took the world by storm. ” ( SOURCE )
Basically, even if you wanted to give up plastic entirely… you can’t! But you can reduce the daily use of it. 100 years after the invention of synthetic plastic humans are waking up to the damage it has made. Somewhere, perhaps exactly on the Great Pacific garbage patch, there is your plastic bag, your old phone, your old bottle or the plastic cups/forks/plates you used for that picnic years ago… this is why we’re all responsible. Even if we did change our habits today, we need to clean up the mess we (directly or indirectly) participated in creating.
It’s an exciting time and also a positive one. We are in the middle of a huge planetarian chaos!! We are called to tap into our creativity to rethink and reimagine a healthy beautiful and clean future. And also a loving one 🙂
P.S. Oh and you know something wonderful happened on day 4: I walked all the way!! The beaches were extremely clean (only a few things here and there)… I was smiling in joy! On day 5 I walked with a kid all the way and saw a woman collecting stuff during her walk, and my mom began picking up little bits she’d see in the water! … I believe in a clean planet ❤